The Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society received a mural-type painting depicting World War II from the Williamsport chapter of the Forty and Eight Club. The painting was done by local physician and artist Henry Mussina in 1950.
The Forty and Eight Club has closed its doors and the building has been sold. Bill Ashton, a member of the Club, contacted the Historical Society to inquire of potential interest in housing the painting. “Of course, we wanted it!,” remarked Gary Parks, Executive Director of the Taber, ‘but there were a few logistical problems to be worked out. The mural is an oil on canvas and measures twelve feet in length and eight feet in height. It would not fit through any of the doors in the Club’s building or for that matter, the Taber Museum doors. Mike Callahan of Callahan’s Antiquities in Montoursville was consulted for an appraisal of the painting for the Club’s benefit and it was Mike who came up with the solution to remove a middle section of stretchers, to fold the canvas, and bring it to the museum. Two volunteers for the Museum- Bruce Rogers and Chuck Luppert- were on hand to accomplish the task. Bruce was able to reconstruct the stretchers and the painting is now on display within the museum.”
La Société des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux, commonly known as the Forty and Eight, is a nonprofit organization of United States veterans headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was first founded in 1920 in Philadelphia and chapters spread throughout the country. The original concept was that a train car could transport forty soldiers and eight horses to a World War I location.
Henry Mussina was a physician in Williamsport. He graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and Tulane Post Graduate School of Medicine. During World War II, he served four years as a major in the army. He retired from the medical profession in 1951 and devoted his time to painting and art restoration. He was president of the Williamsport Sketch Club from its inception; first president of the Williamsport Chapter of the Pennsylvania Craftsman Guild; and held the office of secretary-treasurer for the Pennsylvania Physicians Art Association.His preliminary design done in 1948 was also included in the long-term loan.
Visitors may view the painting free of charge during normal operational hours, but if they would like to visit the rest of the Museum, normal cost of admission will be charged.